Jul 12, 2011

Jainism in Scheduled Tribes

By Mahavir Sanglikar

You will be surprised to know that the there are followers of Jainism in Scheduled Tribes. Scheduled Tribes are popularly known as Adivasis. Scheduled Tribes consist over 8.2% of total population of India according 2001 Census of India.

According to 2001 Census of India, the total population was above 102 Crores. The population of Scheduled Tribes was above 8.4 Crores.

There is a popular belief that most of the people belonging to Schedule Castes and Scheduled Tribes are followers of Hinduism. But the Sachar Committee has reported that members of scheduled castes and tribes of India are not exclusively adherents of Hinduism. According to the report of Sachar Committee and other agencies, there are followers of all religions namely Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Sikhism and Jainism in Scheduled Tribes.

Interestingly, 2.6% of followers of Jainism belong to Scheduled Tribes. It means 26 persons out of every 1000 persons in total Jain community belong to Scheduled Tribes. It seems an attractive number, but it is not, when compared to STs in other religions.

We must note that other religions, i.e. Hinduism, Christianity etc are introduced to Tribals in modern era, while Jainism is present amongst them from ancient time. But these followers of Jainism are away from so called main stream Jains and Jainism. Further there are many other Scheduled Tribes which are followers of Jainism, but they do not know that they are Jains.

This is not only about Scheduled Tribes. There are a large number of followers of Jainism in OBCs (Other Backward Classes), SCs (Scheduled Castes), NTs (Nomadic Tribes) and Cultivators. Jainism is a grass root religion and what is known as a Jain community is just a visible part of the iceberg.

Unfortunately, Jain leaders are unaware of these facts. No one has capability of becoming the leader of all Jains as each leader enjoys being leader of his sub caste, caste, sect or linguistic group. They should wake up, try to know the actual structure of Jain community and give representation to different types of Jains in their ‘All India’ organizations.

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